Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientist Wants To Find Out What Went Sour With Flowers

Date:
May 14, 1999
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Flower researcher Natalia Dudareva is on the scent of a mysterious disappearance. "Selective breeding has reduced flower scent to almost nothing," says Dudareva, a Purdue University assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. "Flowers are bred for color, size and shelf life without any attention to scent. Floral scent disappeared, and nobody knows why."

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Flower researcher Natalia Dudareva is on the scent of a mysterious disappearance."Selective breeding has reduced flower scent to almost nothing," says Dudareva, a Purdue University assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. "Flowers are bred for color, size and shelf life without any attention to scent. Floral scent disappeared, and nobody knows why."

Related Articles


Dudareva is one of the few scientists in the world who is working to answer that question, and a few others, about this most appreciated -- but least understood -- plant characteristic.

Since arriving at Purdue in 1997, the native Russian has set up a laboratory with growth facilities. It's only the second floral scent lab in the United States working at the molecular level. The first was the one she left at the University of Michigan, where she and her colleagues had isolated three genes for enzymes that form volatile compounds, which combine to produce scent.

Volatile compounds are essential oils that evaporate in warm weather and combine in various proportions to produce distinctive odors that are identical among plants of the same variety. An orchid could produce about 100 different volatile compounds, while a snapdragon produces about seven to 10. While much has been done to analyze the composition of scent, we're just learning about the genes that produce the compounds and how they are given off.

While she appreciates the smell of fresh flowers, Dudareva says the real attraction for her is the chance to study this little-known aspect of plant biology. Plants use volatile compounds to repel and kill pests, to attract pollinators, and to communicate between cells and plants. Volatile compounds can be expressed in minute quantities that are impossible to work with individually, but they become more workable when combined as floral scent.

One compound, linool, is toxic to some insects. The same compound, though, allows moths to find the Clarkia plant, which has small pink flowers and depends on a nocturnal moth for pollination. Linool is a long-distance volatile compound; it travels great distances to attract pollinators. As a moth closes in, it fixes on a different short-distance compound to help it zero in on a specific flower.

Plants also use volatile compounds to warn other plants.

"There are known examples of plants that have been infected with a virus and have released a volatile compound that signals other plants to set up defenses against the virus," Dudareva says.

Once she understands how plants produce volatile compounds and what genes are involved, Dudareva says she hopes to be able to manipulate the genes to enhance the beneficial aspects of scent. "Of course, we'll also be able to produce lots of nice smelling flowers," she says.

She's also intrigued by the field of aromatherapy and the attempts to link health benefits with exposure to certain smells. If links can be established between scent and health effects, such as stress reduction, Dudareva knows that interest in her work will blossom.

"What if you could make yourself feel better simply by putting a vase of enhanced flowers on your desk?" Dudareva asks. "That would be better than taking a pill!"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Scientist Wants To Find Out What Went Sour With Flowers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990514071053.htm>.
Purdue University. (1999, May 14). Scientist Wants To Find Out What Went Sour With Flowers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990514071053.htm
Purdue University. "Scientist Wants To Find Out What Went Sour With Flowers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990514071053.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins